The bustling town of Kitzbühel lies in the province of Tyrol in the western finger of Austria. This quintessentially Alpine town has become a ski destination popular with high-flying businessmen and celebrities and, because of its reputation, property is twice as expensive there as it is in Bramberg am Wildkogel,a smaller (but still attractive) town 40 minutes’ drive south.
Bramberg, in neighbouring Salzburg province, is a fast-growing destination thanks to two ski-lifts that opened at the end of 2010. Another selling point is that both EU and non-EU purchasers can buy holiday homes in Salzburg province – whereas because of local restrictions (each province has its own rules on holiday homes) only EU purchasers can buy in Tyrol.
“I’ve never seen such a huge regeneration of a little ski region in Austria,” says Jessica Delaney of Alpine Ski Property. “Before, you only had 70km of the Wildkogel ski area to explore and the old ski-lift was to the west of the town. The new lift is in the centre of Bramberg, with the new Kitzbühel gondola just five minutes away by car or ski bus, opening up all 220km of skiing in the Kitzbühel Alps.” The new ski-lifts have greatly increased skiing possibilities – and therefore demand – especially from families, as it is known for its family-friendly ski runs.
While the lifts were being installed, local and international developers were meeting the town council to discuss how to regenerate the area around the new town centre lift. Plans were drawn up and there are now six developments in the vicinity, either completed or under construction.
The biggest is the Bramberg Residences – five-star apartments with a spa. A coffee shop and restaurant are being built below the latest phase of 12 two- and three-bedroom apartments, priced from €359,000 to €999,000. These apartments must be offered as rental properties for a minimum of 100 days a year, a requirement of most of the developments in Bramberg and all holiday homes in Kitzbühel.
“Luckily, most buyers want to rent out their property nowadays,” says Delaney. “A few years ago, only 30 per cent wanted to do so, but now that has risen to 90 per cent – even people with big budgets. They want to see their money make money.”
Located 20 metres from the ski-lift and right beside the longest floodlit toboggan run in the world are the Smaragd apartments and chalets. These have been finished to a high standard in granite, glass and wood and are being sold fully furnished, ready for letting. “Last winter, they were successfully rented for up to €2,500 a week in high season,” says Giles Gale of Mark Warner Property, which is marketing the development. Each three-bedroom apartment has a large central atrium, sauna, steam room and relaxation area. Prices, which include two spaces in the underground car park, range from €506,000 to €595,000. Two of the five-bedroom chalets, which have an open-plan top floor with vaulted ceiling, are built; another eight are being sold off-plan. Prices for these start at €868,000.
Kitzbühel prices have soared over the past five years, primarily because of the lack of top-end property, and now range between €6,000 and €10,000 per sq metre.
“Kitzbühel is a unique destination, particularly with its famous Hahnenkamm downhill race,” says Klaus-Rainer Fabi of Private Residences. “Prices have reached a high level [because] in Tyrol there is still a very restrictive land law in regards to the approval of new building projects, which means that existing properties are very much in demand. Wealthy buyers see a strong investment in Kitzbühel luxury property, especially in these times of financial crisis.” The town is as popular in the summer as it is in the winter, with lively nightlife, gourmet restaurants, five-star hotels and boutique shops.
Private Residences is selling two contemporary three-bedroom duplex apartments in the centre of Kitzbühel at €2.4m and €2.7m, with a communal spa and gym. It is also selling a refurbished four-storey chalet with more than 800 sq metres of space, five bedrooms, a lift, indoor pool, spa, wine cellar and garden in an exclusive residential area of the town. “The property is on the market for over €10m,” says Fabi.
Jeremy Rollason, managing director of Alpine Homes, an associate of Savills, has seen prices rise in Kitzbühel by more than 5 per cent in the past 12 months. “Buyers are wealthy north Europeans and, increasingly, from eastern Europe and Russia.” He is selling a state-of-the-art three-bedroom chalet within walking distance of the centre of Kitzbühel for €4.35m. Alpine Homes is also marketing the largest estate in Kitzbühel, which is a five-minute drive from the centre. This is on sale at €35m and consists of two adjoining chalets with a total area of 2,200 sq metres, five bedrooms, a spa, cinema and wine cellar (see Hot Property).
Just outside Kitzbühel is the satellite village of Kirchberg, where two developments are up for sale. “Kirchberg is the cheaper of the two locations,” says Simon Malster of agent Investors in Property. “I’d describe it as being like London’s Notting Hill, whereas Kitzbühel is the equivalent of Knightsbridge.” Kirchberg is particularly popular with Austrians, who prefer its quieter character.
The most expensive development is the Alpenrose Residences, due to be finished by winter 2013. One chalet is on sale at €2.25m, with four apartments available for between €1.63m and €2.45m. Each home has three bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the village, a sauna and two underground parking places. The second, Tyrolean Apartments, consists of 17 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in a converted hotel. Sold fully furnished, prices range from €306,500 to €771,000. Both developments are on sale via Investors in Property.
With all Austrian developments, there are two ways to buy: either at a higher price whereby you rent out the property yourself, or at a lower price, whereby you can reclaim some or all of the value added tax. If you choose the latter, you have to rent out the property professionally for 20 years, be VAT-registered and file quarterly accounts. If you sell the property within that period, you will have to repay all or part of the refunded VAT.
● To reclaim the full 20 per cent value added tax, a property must not be for personal use
● A tourism tax of 80 cents per night is levied for every occupant over 14 who rents the property
● Purchase costs are about 6.5 per cent
● On average, an annual property tax of €350 is payable on a chalet
● Non-EU citizens cannot buy holiday homes in the Tyrol, but anyone is allowed to in buy a holiday home in the Salzburg province
● Austrian banks will fund up to 60 per cent of the purchase price and usually lend up to 25 years. Interest rates are currently about 3 per cent
What you can buy for …
€500,000 A two-bedroom apartment in Bramberg
€1m A five-bedroom chalet in Bramberg
€5m A 400 sq metre chalet in the best location in Kitzbühel